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Zero
A Concert Review

April 27, 1996

The Cubby Bear

Chicago, IL

A Review by
The Mystery Dude
I suppose its easiest to say I stumbled on to Zero by accident a few years ago. A friend had lent me a box of Jorma and Hot Tuna tapes and there was a Zero tape in it. I asked him who was in Zero and he told me John Cipollina, Steve Kimock, and Martin Fierro. I thought any band with Cipollina and Fierro in it had to be good. Martin Fierro was one of the reasons I love those Garcia and Saunders and Legion of Mary shows from '74 and '75. I think at one point John Cipollina was in half the bands in San Francisco, unfortunately his moving on to that Great Gig in the Sky caused several of those bands to call it quits. Fortunately Zero survived and is still thriving today, under the leadership of guitarist Steve Kimock and drummer Greg Anton.

Zero made the Cubby Bear the "Zero Point" on its brief Midwest tour Saturday, April 27, 1996. This was only my second trip to the Cubby Bear to see a band, and it was interesting to discover the floor in front of the stage gave quite a bit when walked over. I hoped it wouldn't cave in while the show was going on. As the band began with their instrumental "Cole's Law," the old floor held and only seemed to move a bit as the crowd danced and grooved to Zero's rock/jazz sound. "Cole's Law" is definitely one of my favorite song titles, it always gives me a good chuckle. (If you still don't get it, write it down without the apostrophe or spaces.) The band moved on to "Pits of Thunder," a Robert Hunter penned number that didn't make it on to Zero's latest release, "Chance in a Million." It kind of disappoints me this song didn't make it on the album, because it really is a great song that gives Martin a lot of room to blow his sax.

"Catalina" was up next and featured Steve Kimock's finger picking guitar. One of the band's newer tunes, Chick Corea's spanish influenced "La Fiesta," followed. The song climaxed with organist, Chip Roland, up on his feet pushing and banging the organ trying to get the deepest sound out of it. The set wound up with "Home on the Range." Vocalist Judge Murphy almost had a false start with the lyrics, but waited until the song came around again and got rolling. The band had a tight jam going as the lyrics ended, with bassist Bobby Vega and drummer Greg Anton quickly increasing the songs tempo. The jam built and built until Steve ended it with one look at Chip.

During the break it was cool to see the band members wandering around the bar talking to the fans. Greg was even checking out some of the taper's equipment, maybe he was looking for a good audience tape! There is no back stage at the Cubby Bear, only a small roped off area at stage right. The few times I glanced over there during the break I saw Steve with his guitar on, tuning or playing along with the PA song. I was surprised to see a man who makes his living playing the guitar not even take it off when he had a short break between sets. What dedication!

The second set kicked off with "Golden Road," the jazzy instrumental from their first album, "Hear Goes Nothing." Steve switched guitars after his first solo and played slide on the remainder of the songs with individual picks on each of his finger tips. Chip melted the band into his vocal outing for the evening, "Richies Rooster." The title track off their latest album, "Chance in a Million" was up next, and it gave all the math people in the audience a chance to decide if "1 in a Million is greater than Zero divided by One". I guess .000001 is greater than 0, but not by much. I wonder what Robert Hunter was thinking when he wrote this one! Greg Anton followed with a bit of drumming, soon to be joined by Chip and Martin hiding behind the speaker stack banging on some drums of their own. Soon Bobby joined in with some real funky bass, and we evolved into "Use Me Up." The set ended with "End of the World Blues."

Its hard to come play in Chicago, without playing some blues. Martin thanked us all for coming, and called them "Just a little band from San Francisco". That little band from San Francisco may be one of its best kept secrets! The band was back in few minutes and gave us a hot version of "Mercury Blues" to end the evening.

While hanging around after the show, watching the roadies break the equipment down, I got to meet Martin, and thanked him for a great show. I even got him to retrieve one of the napkins the band had the first set's list on. A cool souvenir. There were at least 3 microphone stands audio taping the show, and one guy video taping it. A friend of the band's was let in the blocked off area between the crowd and band and she also video taped most of the show. Good tapes should be out there (let me know when you find one)! All in all, a great show. I have to give Zero two BIG thumbs up!! Please come back soon.

Jerry's Kids was the opening act. They were featuring "The songs & lyrics of Robert Hunter." I've been a Grateful Dead fan for about 10 years and saw the band over 50 times, but I never saw a 100% Dead cover band. These guys weren't too bad.

They started off with one of my favorites, "Mr. Charlie," and worked their way through "They Love Each Other," "Deal," "Loser," and "Foolish Heart." They tackled "Scarlet Begonias" next and the audience loved it. Watching the crowd, you may have thought you really were at a Dead show, with dancing and smiles on everyone. The band made a good transition into "Fire on the Mountain," and closed their 1 hour set with a good version of "Terrapin Station." Not a bad act. I'd like to see them in a longer form and see if they tackle some of the Dead's more complicated material. One Thumb up.

 

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